AV technology ‘not the cure-all for congestion’: study

New report advises on how to prepare for an autonomous future

AV technology ‘not the cure-all for congestion’: study
Front cover of the report.


A new study conducted by transport consultancy MRCagney recommends the need to remain "objective" and consider what autonomous vehicles technology "should mean for transport and land use planning".

Although Autonomous Vehicles report focuses on AV technology use in public transport in a New Zealand context, the findings and several suggestions outlined for preparation and adoption relate to all cities and to all areas of transport.

While the report notes the benefits of AV technology, it cautions against various risks including:

  • increased road congestion from increased demand for private and personal vehicle travel
  • increased vehicle miles travelled across the total network (with all the associated environmental impacts) as AVs continue to travel to pick-up and drop-off more passengers compared with current vehicles that park at their destination
  • increased pressure on meeting infrastructure requirements due to urban sprawl with longer commutes becoming more convenient in AVs, due to the freedom for passengers to do other 'things' while a 'chauffeur' takes care of the driving.

MRCagney MD Leslie Carter says government and road transport authorities should act now to prepare and adapt for the benefits that AV technologies bring to the table.

Without proper land use planning for the most appropriate application of autonomous and electric vehicle technologies, "we may even risk further entrenching an over-reliance on the private vehicle to meet our mobility needs – which is completely at cross-purposes with sustainable transport planning principles", the report notes.

The study suggests:

  • governments must enable AV advancement via regulation and providing certainty to the market
  • parking infrastructure must be updated to enable AV
  • public transport connections with autonomous car share vehicles must be facilitated
  • AV should be trialled in PT vehicles
  • road infrastructure should be upgraded to be AV compliant
  • connective vehicle/infrastructure/services technologies should be invested in to improve road safety and the overall travel experience for all.

But wide adoption of this technology could still be several years’ away, MRCagney acknowledges.

Factors like slow rate of vehicle turnover, high cost of the new technology, and legislative and technological barriers could all impede adoption, the report notes.

The full report can be found here.

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook